Posted in music | pictures on April 4, 2007

"Battles is an United States/American math rock band. Following a string of EPs, the band released their debut LP on the Warp Records label in February 2006. The album is a compilation of their increasingly hard-to-find early releases. The group's lineup is composed of well-known musicians, including ex-Helmet drummer John Stanier, ex-Don Caballero guitarist Ian Williams, ex-Lynx guitarist Dave Konopka, and Tyondai Braxton (son of Avantgarde Jazz musician Anthony Braxton), who also plays guitar and keyboard and creates live voice samples." [Wikipedia]

Battles @ Bowery Ballroom

Despite the band being from NYC, I saw Battles for the first time at Bowery Ballroom last night (April 3, 2007). I never really gave them a chance before - partly because the opportunity never really came up, and partly because I'd seen Tyondai solo a bunch of times and wasn't really into what he was doing on the floor with all his contraptions.....BUT, that was then, and this is now, and lately I've been loving the new Battles record (most of it at least), and I really love their video for 'Atlas'.

Battles @ Bowery Ballroom

So I went to the show, and it was great. I didn't like it as much as the guy next to me, or as much as the recent LCD Soundsystem or !!! shows, but it was up there in awesomeness. The sound wasn't full or something, and Battles seem at times too jammy, unrehearsed, or jazzy, or something, but they was great nonetheless - especially when they played 'Atlas' - Tyondai's live vocals being a highlight there.

Battles @ Bowery Ballroom

I would see them again, and look forward to whatever they do in the future. More pics below....

Battles @ Bowery Ballroom

Battles @ Bowery Ballroom

Battles @ Bowery Ballroom

Battles @ Bowery Ballroom

Battles @ Bowery Ballroom

Battles @ Bowery Ballroom

Battles @ Bowery Ballroom

Battles @ Bowery Ballroom

Battles @ Bowery Ballroom

Battles @ Bowery Ballroom

Battles @ Bowery Ballroom

"Video: Battles, 'Atlas' + Single Out Now!" [I Guess I'm Floating]

"And really, who needs between-song banter or ironic covers when your music is as tight, inventive, and technically accomplished as this?" [Pitchfork]

More music at their MySpace.

* Edward Droste plays Battles on Sirius
* Battles - 2007 Tour Dates + "Atlas" video
* Battles opening for Mission of Burma



Comments (24)


Posted by Anonymous | April 4, 2007 7:47 AM

Oh, probably like the Arctic Monkeys, Snow Patrol, the Horrors and other stuff like that. Apples and oranges.

I'm so glad I went last night. It was my 4th (and best) time seeing them. However, I'm with you, BV—the LCD and !!! shows were almost too perfect.

Posted by i was there | April 4, 2007 9:24 AM

i saw battles about 3 years ago at galapagos... i guess they had just formed around then. it was a pretty freaking cool show. the drummer is fun to watch, and ian is pretty much a master at what he does.

Posted by lewislfowler | April 4, 2007 9:49 AM

I just gave them a listen on myspace...very intriguing! Wish I had gotten the heads up on last night's show.

Just out of curiousity...what exactly is "math rock"?? Never heard of the genre.

And BV: Not a fan of the "jammy" stuff? I notice you give it a negative connotation there. To each his own, but I'd much rather see a band take some chances and experiment a bit on stage. Sure, when it's bad, it's bad...but when it hits, it's SO nice. And as a spectator you've just had the pleasure of witnessing the creation of beautiful art. For me, that definitely beats hearing a band play their album measure for measure.

Posted by Drugs Delaney | April 4, 2007 9:55 AM

I might have been the guy next to you.
good lord this was an amazing show with some of the best not-flashy-but-amazing drumming I've seen in a long time. they all sounded fantastic. how do people stand still for beats like that??

prefuse not so much.

Posted by old granddad | April 4, 2007 10:00 AM

i probably was the girl next to you because i enjoyed the hell out of that show.

Posted by girl next door | April 4, 2007 10:49 AM

Those pictures look like they were taken from my vantage point, I was the dude with the long hair in the ponytail and track pants...anyway, my mind was locked into every single note they were playing and it was an orgasmic experience. I love their creativity/jamminess and outright comical stupidity... I laughed hysterically at certain points. Toward the end, during one song (can't remember which), I leaned over to my friend and said "It sounds like a clown getting a lobotomy". Great night all in show I've been to this year... definitely cheered me up after a dissapointing Hella experience on Friday.

Posted by Cephalic | April 4, 2007 11:28 AM

Saw the new Hella at sxsw...horrible. they need to go back to a two-piece....or at least ditch the singer.

Posted by Anonymous | April 4, 2007 11:37 AM

totally agreed man. I actually never saw them as a two-piece but as a four piece opening for Les Claypool's Fancy Band. As a four piece they were able to recreate the Church Gone Wild/Chirpin Hard sounds pretty accurately, while still keeping intact that Hella goodness...they did play some tracks off of Hold Your Horse Is and Total Bugs Bunny and they totally blew my nuts off at that show.

With this 5 piece line up, I feel like its total overkill, and they're shutting out the listener... its almost painful to listen to... although I do love a good deal of the new songs, its just unnecessary to have so many people. Stage presence was totally compromised with 5 people on the stage. And on top of that, everyone besides Zach and Spencer looked like they'd rather be reading a newspaper than being on stage.

Posted by Cephalic | April 4, 2007 11:54 AM

the bass player from hella looks like he'd rather be doing squat presses than reading a newspaper.

Posted by old granddad | April 4, 2007 12:05 PM

my dad's band is playing hammerstein 6/25.

Posted by spencer tweedy | April 4, 2007 12:25 PM

your dad's band sucks.

Posted by sean lennon | April 4, 2007 12:40 PM

RE: " Just out of curiousity...what exactly is "math rock"?? Never heard of the genre. "

Wiki: Math rock is a style of rock music that emerged in the late 1980s. It is characterised by complex, atypical rhythmic structures, stop/start dynamics and angular, dissonant riffs.

It is a fairly vague term however, but can apply to bands such as:

Battles, Ruins, Lightning Bolt, Hella, Secret Chiefs 3, Don Caballero, Mastodon, Captain Beefheart, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Mars Volta, King Crimson, and even Steve Reich, Philip Glass, Ravi Shankar, Igor Stravinsky, John Cage, John Zorn can be thrown into the mix... even though they aren't traditionally considered "math rock"

Posted by Cephalic | April 4, 2007 1:08 PM

Yeah, Crimson's "Book Of Saturday's" is a real math rocker...

Posted by drewo | April 4, 2007 1:59 PM


i was definitely dancing my ass off front left stage

Posted by Anonymous | April 4, 2007 2:03 PM

and prefuse not so much??? he is a freakin genius. how can you say that? it was just a live mpc set. go see his live show and say that. new beats that i have yet to hear from the man.

left of stage shakin my ass at LCD too.

Posted by Anonymous | April 4, 2007 2:19 PM

Wow, "jammy" & "unrehearsed"? I probably couldn't disagree with a description of a band more...Battles music is maybe the most precisely arranged and performed shit I've ever heard from a rock band. They don't improvise at all...there's no room for it in their music - no margin for error.

Posted by sancho | April 4, 2007 2:34 PM

anon 2:19-
"go see his live show and say that"

um, I'm saying that now in response to the live show I saw last night.

I like his music and was very excited to hear he was the opener but I was let down by the set. was it advertised that it would be an mpc set? I figured john herndon wouldn't be there for a one off, but why didn't he put on the kind of live show that is supposed to be so amazing? he had the time and he definitely knows people, so why make excuses for it?

there were a few great beats but compared to battles, not so much.

Posted by old granddad | April 4, 2007 2:36 PM

Last time I saw them they were opening up for Prefuse 73. How the tables have turned.

Posted by Way | April 4, 2007 2:58 PM

RE: "Yeah, Crimson's "Book Of Saturday's" is a real math rocker..."

Sensing a certain degree of sarcasm in that response... would you say that Fripp's reverse solo isn't odd/atypical with angular riffs?

Posted by Cephalic | April 4, 2007 3:33 PM

"Last time I saw them they were opening up for Prefuse 73. How the tables have turned."

i was there too and those two shows skull f*cked my head

it had nothing to do with turned tables. him and braxton are good friends and they were taken on tour with him for surrounded by silence. i think the reason he did a mpc set was so it didnt take any light off the band you came to see....BTTLS!

read the pitchfork interview with mr herren

Posted by Anonymous | April 4, 2007 4:10 PM

Sorry about the sarcasm. "Book Of Saturdays" (a quiet, almost acoustic KC song circa '73) does close with some beautiful Fripp guitar playing. Doesn't sound "mathematical" to me, just utterly distinctive and beautiful. And melodic.

Just seems like "math rock" can be applied to so many bands that have "stop/start dynamics and angular, dissonant riffs" (what exactly is an "angular" riff?) from Yes to Pixies to Go4 to Annuals - that it's essentially a meaningless term, but one that makes some rock writers sound smart.

Posted by drewo | April 4, 2007 4:18 PM

Not to knock your opinion there, BV, but I've got to agree with some of the other comments. 'Too jammy' and 'unrehearsed' sounds nothing like the Battles that I saw in Chapel Hill a couple weeks back. While I don't think I posted about this in my review of the show, I remember seeing Dave completely screw up a line, and while I (and I assume the rest of the audience) couldn't really tell from the sound, I saw the look on his face of 'oh, crap.' If the band was loose and 'jammy,' he wouldn't even have cared, but, as far as I'm concerned, they are one of the most precise and meticulous bands I've ever seen live.

Posted by Tug | April 5, 2007 3:24 PM

Setlist from the Bowery show for anyone interested:

Tij > S Z 2 (2nd 1/2), Tras, Tonto, Atlas > Race In, Hi/Lo

E: Dance

Posted by Brendan | April 7, 2007 12:54 AM

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